Israel Basketball Association Strives to End Players' Strike

Veterans are protesting an alleged lack of opportunities for young players; practices as well as games are now being boycotted.

Forty-eight hours after striking Israeli hoopsters failed to show up for their Saturday night Super League games, some teams canceled practices while others worked out with just the foreign players.

Either way, the Israel Basketball Association has no plans to cancel the season at this stage. It called on the players to return immediately and might seek a court injunction to bring them back.

Israeli players skipped Saturday night's games to protest league plans to let teams add a fifth foreign player to their rosters. The Israelis who did show up at the arenas sat on the sidelines.

Maccabi Tel Aviv practiced as usual. Hapoel Eilat said it would return to practice on Tuesday as usual. Gilboa/Galil called up its youth team Maayanot/Galil for a morning practice on Monday with the intention of fielding five foreigners and seven youth players for Wednesday night's Balkan League contest against Rilski.

The IBA presidium held an emergency meeting Monday night to discuss the crisis. The association's chairman, Avner Kopel, said a compromise was needed to get the players back on the parquet. Other presidium members, however, took the strikers to task.

In the end, the association called on the players to return immediately; it hopes to seal an agreement on player numbers by the end of the month.

"I support the league administration. This is a wildcat strike that breaches agreements. It's an abnormal situation," said presidium member Eitan Rub.

"The association and the administration as regulator set the rules of the game, but something went wrong with the players. The older players are leading the strike. The middle generation is opposed, and the young ones are being swept away by [players' association chief] Nir Alon. The strike is dangerous for the sport."

Sefi Magriso